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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saraba #14 – the Art Issue

·         Download Saraba #14 the Art Issue Here

Art is the rhapsody of many things, vitriol of struggles even. As complex as life can be, it is art’s burden to find articulation for these many differences. Art is plagued with the subtleties of living, of dying and how lives are made different by them. Really, art is burdened. And it is in the subtleties that art must explore, in the articulation it must find, and in its many burdens that this Saraba Art Issue is engaging and assertive. 

There is also politics in the elusiveness of art, in the knowledge that it cannot be restricted. Art may also be the prostitution of humanity; its vanities and downplays. Art struggles because we struggle. As I stared dull at my computer screen, opening, closing and reopening MS Word blank pages, I struggled to review this. I fought with the standard to maintain as a relatively known book blogger. I knew this post will gather 500 hits at least. And for that, I sought for coherence, for simplicity and moving rhetoric, because only those will achieve my desire with this review. This was my own struggle: I wanted to make art for art. I wanted to create. I wanted to make you desire and get my drift. Maybe these are what art is: to communicate, to struggle and to entertain (perhaps at the same pace). I struggled to make art. To me, in this, about reviewing this edition of Saraba, art is a struggle; art is a communication; art is an entertainment. In this issue, Saraba is art.

In this issue of Saraba, art is not a theme but rather a tool. The last issue, themed Africa, does not stand close to this one. Not at all. Maybe that is the problem with themes, they tether us around what to think on. Themes are not just diverse in their entireties. They can only raise questions about particular matters, they are not broad enough. This art issue does not follow that trend. Or it does follow the trend as a theme and also exhibits itself as a tool to projecting all that art can achieve. Art is a very big word indeed. This Saraba Art Issue is all involving. Can art really be a theme? Doing so will be making art for art.

There is a centrality of theme that runs through the fictions in this edition. One may think the short story writers agreed on how to write on the different things they set out on. I must say, the short stories in this issue are a fine pack. The writers knew what they are writing. You get that feeling from their masterly use of words and descriptions. Nothing is wasted; not of words, not of expressions. What draws you is in how they engage with the nuances of their characters. And doing that really is always a reader’s delight. Humans are so emotionally complex. When a writer explores this complexity interestingly, you can’t just be bored. I wasn’t bored with the short stories. In Chiagozie’s Deletion, Olisakwe’s Spiritual Attack, Okwiri’s Christopher, Ifesinachi’s Red Lace, Yomi’s Some Deaths are Words Apart (an excerpt), there is a creative interactivity between the stories’ themes and the characters. The wonder isn’t in knowing how they individually raise and resolve their conflicts, it is much about the internal probe of their characters. Mazi’s Deletion and Okwiri’s Christopher are really an exemplary such in how that is made happen. 

I shouldn’t fill you in on the brilliant visual art collection in this issue, you will only have to read it to know the details. With this issue 14, it seems Saraba has upped its game in that genre. When ideas mixed with excellent illustrations and snapshots, your attention is hooked. I was hooked. And still is.

See Art in These?

“Christopher” by Okwiri Oduor

The story’s theme is not hurriedly given away, rather, you are engaged with the different shades of the main character’s feelings. It is all about Christopher. Every other person becomes conflicted in his travails. His relationship with Ana suffers and Julie almost babysits him. In the battle of self, the conflict of solitude, and of dying and living, Christopher is a spellbinding read.

“Under the Influence: Photographs of Africa” by Moses Serubiri

This achieves intellectuality without boredom. This is the kind of essays that make reading a mag worthwhile. Moses gives us much to think about: about the power of cameras; about the identity influence of photographs; about how stereotypes could be created and altered with pictures; about the interlaying responsibilities of a photographer.

“I am concerned with what fills the mind of a photographer before he goes out to capture or interprets his subject’s reality for us. The pivotal question is what if this subject is as contentious as Africa. …the power that cameras possess draws us to the awareness that we can make up an identity.”

“Spiritual Attack” by Ukamaka Olisakwe

If it is a spiritual attack that has plunged Nneka’s life so deep in misery, what about the problems she faces at work, are they also spiritual? Maybe this spiritual attack is a continuum and does not only end with her Mum’s and Dad’s despair. It really isn’t spiritual as it can get. But also of man’s greed and helplessness as you reason further.  Nneka’s evil momentarily shuttle between job security and her self-realisation in Edward Olaloye.  Olisakwe writes beautiful prose, she once featured on this blog here, I really will like to read her novel, Eyes of the Goddess

“Liquor” by Serge Gay Jr.

Just how many faces could you see through a bottle? Putting it simply, how many lives have sought (and still seeking) escapism in alcohol? You really must go through Serge’s “Liquor” before you could get a closure on that. His and many other visuals are reasons why I said Saraba may just have upped the game in publishing brilliant visual art in magazines.

“Some Deaths are Worlds Apart” by Yomi Ogunsanya

I really need to know this author. I want to read Yomi’s book, Aiyedun, from where this story is excerpted, when it finally hits the shelves. Yomi really knows how to trace the intricacies of an embattled mind and make telling it beautiful and moving. This is so different from the biased stories of Northern carnages flying about.


If you haven’t been reading Saraba, this edition should make you start doing so. Take that from me. Take that from a critical reader. You should download it now. Nuffsaid.

Read previous reviews of Issue 9, 11, 12 & 13 

I also blog about books on Critical Literature Review


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